It’s Time to Canonize Fr. Mychal Judge: Seeking Personal Testimony

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The time has come to begin the initial research to make Franciscan Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, a canonized saint in the Catholic Church.  And we need the help of people like you to spread the word about such a possibility so that we can gather evidence about Fr. Judge’s life and ministry.

Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM

On September 11, 2001, Fr. Judge, who was a chaplain for the New York City Fire Department, rushed into the World Trade Center building with other first responders, after terrorists had flown planes into the skyscraper towers.  As a result of his sacrifice, he died, and is now often referred to as “Victim Number One” of that tragic day which witnessed the deaths of close to 3,000 people, with over 6,000 more injured.

He was also known as an unofficial chaplain in the gay community, providing pastoral care and support wherever and whenever he could.  He ministered, selflessly, too, with HIV/AIDS patients and with people suffering from addictions.

Pope Francis paved the way for Fr. Judge to be considered for canonization this past week when he added a new possible pathway to sainthood:  the heroic giving of one’s life for others.

The pope issued a motu propio on July 11th entitled “Maiorem hac dilectionem.” The Latin title is derived from St. John’s Gospel: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). The National Catholic Reporter explained why this development is significant:

“Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci, Secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes, said the addition is meant ‘to promote heroic Christian testimony, (that has been) up to now without a specific process, precisely because it did not completely fit within the case of martyrdom or heroic virtues.’

“For centuries, consideration for the sainthood process required that a Servant of God heroically lived a life of Christian virtues or had been martyred for the faith. The third, less common way, is called an equivalent or equipollent canonization: when there is evidence of strong devotion among the faithful to a holy man or woman, the pope can waive a lengthy formal canonical investigation and can authorize their veneration as saints.

“While these three roads to sainthood remain unchanged, they were not adequate ‘for interpreting all possible cases’ of holiness, the archbishop wrote in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, July 11.

“According to the apostolic letter, any causes for beatification according to the new pathway of “offering of life” would have to meet the following criteria:

  • Free and willing offer of one’s life and a heroic acceptance, out of love, of a certain and early death; the heroic act of charity and the premature death are connected.
  • Evidence of having lived out the Christian virtues — at least in an ordinary, and not necessarily heroic, way — before having offered one’s life to others and until one’s death.
  • Evidence of a reputation for holiness, at least after death.
  • A miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession is needed for beatification.”

Last week, I spoke with Fr. Luis Fernando Escalante, an Argentinian priest living in Rome, who serves as a postulator for the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes.  Fr. Escalante said that Fr. Judge clearly fits this new category of a heroic giver of one’s own life.

In order to propose that Fr. Judge be investigated by the Congregation to be considered for canonization, an immense amount of research first must be done.  What is needed are first-hand accounts from people who knew Fr. Judge personally or who have had any correspondence with him or have other significant documents that will give a clearer, more detailed picture of his life, spirituality, and ministry.  Extremely important is any information regarding a possible miracle attributed to Fr. Judge’s intercession.

Fr. Escalante emphasized that this new category for canonization requires only an ordinary living out of Christian virtues, not an extraordinary effort.  So, any stories that you or your contacts may have about Fr. Judge, even if they are seemingly ordinary, are needed.

Here is what you can do:

  1. Share this blog post (or simply the request for information about Fr. Judge) with your social media, email, and personal contacts.  Ask them to share this information with others by the same means.  We need this to go viral to find people who knew Fr. Judge, who feel they have experienced his intercession in a possible miracle, or simply want to support and help the preliminaries of his Cause.
  2. Refer anyone who has first-hand information about Fr. Judge to contact New Ways Ministry by email ([email protected]), phone (301-277-5674), or postal mail (4012 29th Street, Mount Rainier, Maryland 20712).
  3. Persons who have testimony about Fr. Judge need only make an initial contact.  They do not need to explain the nature of their interaction or experience with him in the initial contact.   Follow-up material will be sent to them to elicit the type of information that is needed.
  4. Ask other organizations to which you belong who also might know people who encountered Fr. Judge to share this information.
  5. Pray for the canonization of Fr. Judge.

This opportunity depends on YOU!  The only way that we can make Fr. Judge’s canonization a reality is through a mass effort to find people who knew Fr. Judge.  People who have been involved in Catholic LGBT activities are very likely to have met him or perhaps to have prayed to him for a miracle.  That is why we are asking you to share this information.   Of course, those who knew Fr. Judge from other activities–his parish work, his NYC Fire Department chaplaincy, his ministry to HIV/AIDS patients and addicts–are also sought.

An official request for the Cause of Fr. Judge’s canonization can only be submitted after a great deal of this initial research is gathered.  This may take many months, perhaps even a year or more.  Only through a mass effort to build a network of individuals and organizations who are searching for the necessary evidence and information will we be able to get to even the first step of the canonization process.

For the sake of this heroic priest who literally gave his life for others, please spread the word!

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, July 17, 2017


For more information on the life of Fr. Mychal Judge, click here.

To read Bondings 2.0 blog posts that mention Fr. Mychal Judge click here.

29 replies
  1. Francis
    Francis says:

    Fr Mychal Judge OFM is an inspiration. I only heard of him after his tragic death on 9/11. Along with being an icon of hope for the lgbt community he also offers support to many other groups such as people suffering with addictions, the homeless, the marginalized, and people on the fringes. Fr Mychal is the embodiment of the type of priest favored by Pope Francis.
    I am glad to give my support to this great cause.

  2. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    I don’t object to his canonization, but there are so many others who should be considered first. For example, Frederick Ozanam who founded the Society of St.Vincent de Paul in 1831. If ever there was a saint, it is he.

    • PCM
      PCM says:

      It is not a linear competition. If you believe there should be a campaign for Frederick Ozanam’s canonization, you are free to start one.

  3. Bishop Carlos A Florido, osf
    Bishop Carlos A Florido, osf says:

    To us in the OCC, he is a hero and a saint. He knew the danger that he faced more than once, particularly in 9/11. I hope the RC canonizes him.

  4. Barbara Rogan
    Barbara Rogan says:

    I am in full agreement, he was a hero and a saint. I have his picture hanging in my office as a daily reminder of his example of Christian living!

  5. Dr Dale Rodrigue
    Dr Dale Rodrigue says:

    Bravo! Absolutely!!! A wonderful human being who charged into that hellish environment rather than running away from it!

    In the tradition of the Early Church he is already a saint through popular acclamation!

  6. Patricia Hurd
    Patricia Hurd says:

    Every year on the Anniversary of 9/11, I would show your video and the references to Fr. Mychal to my Theology classes. Last year’s class were just born that year and showing them these accounts made it real. Thank you.

  7. Roger Scully
    Roger Scully says:

    Can not help but think the Gay Community is trying to use Fr. Mychal unfortunate death at the World Trade Center on 9/11 for political purposes. I knew this Friar for years, I don’t believe he would be pleased by what is being done in his name. Holy Name Province has had it’s share of heroic Friars and even a few transformational Friars. No doubt they have had their share of gay priests and brothers as well. Under the circumstances here, it appears that Fr Mychal is being promoted because he was allegedly gay rather than for any other reason. He was a good man, a good friar. Leave it at that.

    • Brian Buckley
      Brian Buckley says:

      not “allegedly”. trust me… he was open to certain people. trust me on that one too.. 1:1 in his tiny simple room at the Friary back in 1992/3,4… Had tea together and dinner a few times. I road down to the Village with him in his Chaplan car w/ (fr) Gerry Carr) and wore his Fire Chaplan hat on LOL.. He put the siren on. We had a good laugh..Yes, he was recovering alcohol and he came to grips w/ his sexual orientation as a gay man.

  8. Michael Scully
    Michael Scully says:

    Mychal Judge’s holy and heroic sacrifice – both on 9/11 and throughout his ministry – clearly qualify him as a “Martyr of Charity.” This title has been applied by the Church to those who give their lives for love of others, and not for the Faith, strictly speaking. Saint Maximillian Kolbe is an example.
    Saint Mychal Judge, pray for us.

    • Joe Vadis
      Joe Vadis says:

      Is this Father Scully who was assigned to the parish in W. Milford and then to the parish in Narrowsburg, I think?

  9. Liz
    Liz says:

    I knew Father Mychal my entire life. He was my priest and baptized me. He lived a life of that was more than ordinary. Never met another person that exuded God’s love they way he did. Said this for years and years before 9/11. Also when I was in 2nd grade a classmates Father held his family hostage at Gun point. The Hines family. Steven Hines was in my class. After many hours Father Mychal climb on top of a firemans ladder and talked the Man into giving up and relaxing his family unharm. There are so many stories like this. I’ve prayed often to Father Mychal and I believe he will be a Saint. I will contact them about an event I am aware of.

  10. John G Barone
    John G Barone says:

    Father Mychal Judge truly walked in Jesus’s footsteps. His actions brought me back to the Church. His sermons woke you up. You looked forward to Sunday mass because you knew there was no hypocrisy in his words because of his actions. I meet him at my wife Arlene’s home. He came to visit with her mother as he had with her mother. When my Mother-in-law became gravely ill he served mass in the living room so she could celebrate the Eucharist with her family. Around that time a man got out of prison and took his wife and child hostage in Carlstad. Father Mychal being the Fire Dept Chaplin had the police and fire radio in the friary he heard the call and responded. He convinced the police on the seen to let him talk to the man. Talk he did, he went into the home, without fear for his own well being and came out with the man, no one harmed. Just how he met his fate on 9-11, unselfishly giving last rights to a fireman with the Twin Towers crumbling all around him. If he is canonized or not he WAS, IS and WILL ALWAYS BE a Saint to all who were privileged to know him. He married Arlene and I.

  11. Anne O'Connor
    Anne O'Connor says:

    Father Judge may well be worthy of canonization, but under the new rules of “laying down one’s life for a friend,” so then is every fireman, police officer and others who rushed into the fiery infernos to save lives.

  12. Kenneth-K.J.Stewart
    Kenneth-K.J.Stewart says:

    Playing devil’s advocate, I’ll ask following the logic of this post shouldn’t all first responders be canonized since all were heroic that day in their actions and deaths?
    And, shouldn’t every good parish priest be canonized if they were pastoral to any and all who sought guidance?

  13. rosemary oakley
    rosemary oakley says:

    father Mychal I grew up with In a sense, he was our priest at st. joseph’s in east Rutherford for many years, until he went on to w. milford I believe and then nyc…He gave me my first holy communion, and was a family friend. He was also involved with so many of us in the community and we were all like a little family of friends and priest. He was a gentle soul and a man for the people as a whole.

    rosemary mangieri 07/19/2017

  14. pat lamendola
    pat lamendola says:

    Father Michael was our priest for years at St Joseph’s parish in west Milford nj. He visited our home when our son Joseph was born and a few weeks later baptized him. When he left our after that initial visit, peering into the crib where the baby was sleeping, he shared with me some family memories. As he left my husband and I just looked at each other in silence. 35 years later I remember as if it were yesterday the words that came out of my mouth He is the closest thing to Jesus Christ I’ve ever met. The peace and love that eminated from him was nothing like I had ever experienced before or since. I truly loved him and think of him often.

  15. Kevin Grace
    Kevin Grace says:

    I had a deadly cancer I prayed to Fr Judge for help I am alive today 4,8 years later..Pray to him he will help,No mater what…He should be a Saint..

  16. K. R
    K. R says:

    I saw a special on TV a night or two before 9/11 on Father Mychal. I am Catholic born but Lutheran in practice. I was so impressed by this soft spoken, spiritual man. They spoke of his involvement in the plane crash off Sound Beach Long Island and how on the anniversary each year Father Mychal comes back. He seemed so unlike the priests of my youth and I had an overwhelming desire to meet him. I live on Long Island and thought about him for the next day or two. When the 9/11 attack began, I was on the phone with a friend who rung me to ask if I was picking up my kids from school in light of what was happening. I had no idea what she was referring to. I had been busy cleaning and never turned on the TV. I turned the TV on, to see in my horror, Father Mychal being wheeled away from the fallen tower. I couldn’t believe my eyes!! I was literally screaming at the TV!! When I calmed down enought to realize he was the FIRST of so many thousands of victims, I sat in the stilled silence of my home, praying for all those souls. My one thought, they had to all be terrified, but Father Mychal would lead them all home. I am sorry I never got to meet this amazing man, but I know I will someday. in the meantime, I hope they do make him a Saint, although he would be the first person to say, what is all the fuss about??


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